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  • Article
  • Open Access

Diurnal variation of atmospheric Maxwell current over the low-latitude continental station, Tirunelveli, India (8.7°N, 77.8°E)

Earth, Planets and Space200759:BF03352704

  • Received: 1 September 2006
  • Accepted: 21 February 2007
  • Published:


Observations of atmospheric Maxwell current from the low-latitude continental station, Tirunelveli (8.7°N, 77.8°E), over a period of 8 years are presented in this study. The horizontal long-wire antenna is used as a sensor for picking up charges from the atmosphere. The objectives of the present work have been to understand the antenna system in response to different meteorological conditions and on fairweather days. We define a fairweather day as a day when there is no snowfall/rainfall at the measuring site, when there are high clouds less than 3 octas throughout the day, and when the wind speed is less than 10 m s−1. A sunrise effect is observed in the measured Maxwell current during fairweather days in all seasons. The measured current exhibits an increase that commences about 30 min before sunrise and lasts for nearly 1.5 h. The sunrise effect is found to be inhibited on days when there is pre-dawn convection and during the presence of rain, haze, or cloud cover. Barring the sunrise effect, the rest of the variations on fairweather day appear to follow a trend typical of the Carnegie curve. On clear cloudless conditions, reasonably good data are obtained during equinox and winter months but not in summer when strong winds associated with the onset of the southwest monsoon make the measurement of Maxwell current difficult and limited data are available.

Key words

  • Air-earth current
  • global electric circuit
  • sunrise effect
  • atmospheric electric field